After a weekend watching the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, one thing is absolutely clear: Curling is the best Olympic sport. Nothing else* comes close.
I know figure skating is like the gymnastics of the Winter Olympics and draws big ratings and the prime-time slot on NBC, but relegating curling to NBCSN or whichever NBC-owned cable network airs the show where the bald guy yells about stocks is a travesty. Especially when you consider that curling is a game of merit, free of the interference from subjective judges like you get in figure skating. If you like events where people are awarded points despite falling flat repeatedly, then figure skating and reruns of Chris Hardwick’s @midnight are for you.
Sure, curling may lack the pageantry of skipping around to slightly different versions of popular songs you haven’t heard in years, but the sport is still beautiful. Anyone can do it. Old, young, man, woman, jacked, doughy. It’s the American dream but not bullshit. I don’t entirely understand curling but it’s a simple enough game that I’m pretty sure I could dominate it internationally for decades after one or two practices. Mixed doubles, which has been the first curling event to take place in PyeongChang, flips from acute concentration and careful precision to men and women teammates yelling at each other like they are breaking up during a walk home from a bar at 3 AM. It’s joyous.
From what I can tell, this is the equipment every curler uses:
- 1 slippery shoe, presumably coated in grease
- 1 sticky shoe, presumably coated in glue
- 1 Swiffer duster in the primary color of your nation’s flag
- 6 round rocks that have a colorful handle you’d find on a toilet
All you have to do is slide the stones into a giant bull’s eye at the other end of the ice. It’s like beer pong with rocks. I love everything about it. I want to move to Canada or Minnesota and join a league. I want to star in a training montage where wily old curling legend Stones McGillicuddy trains me for the Olympics but only after I prove to him I’m serious by showing up at his curling club every day for a week despite the other curlers beating me with the Swiffer dusters.
Curling is so easy to follow. You can play along at home. “Oh man, Sven needs to clip that Canadian stone to get it out of there.” It’s fast enough to be interesting but slow enough to let you digest everything. It’s quietly intense but everyone seems to be aware they are sliding rocks into other rocks. It’s mentally and physically challenging. We need to get curling into every high school.
Another great thing about curling is while it’s extremely difficult, it looks so damn easy. I can’t imagine myself hitting a baseball or shooting a basketball over a 6'6" man, but I can imagine sliding a stone. I bet Google has to add servers to handle all the “curling clubs near me” searches during the Olympics. As someone who has dominated Canadians on a shuffleboard table, I know I would thrash anyone at a game that is just shuffleboard where you stand on the table. Bring it on, Gord!
I was surprised to find the game was invented in Scotland, not Canada. It really seems like a game invented in 1933 by a Canadian guy who didn’t have the athletic ability to play hockey but was always really good at sliding the puck from one end of the ice to the other. “I’ll show those damn hockey jerks and their dumb skates. Mom! I’m going to collect some round rocks, don’t wait up!”
The Canadian mixed doubles team that just won the gold medal this morning was my favorite, although the dude on the team seemed a little dickish. You see, one person sort of escorts the rock down the ice and when their teammate screams, the escort sweeps in front of the rock so it will travel farther. In the semifinal against Norway, I noticed the Canadian dude was ignoring orders from his teammate, who I later learned is his future wife. As someone who had watched curling for nearly two days at this point, I found this troubling.
Then I learned on the broadcast that the man, John Morris, was once known, and I shit you not, as “the bad boy of curling.”
That’s right, folks. Curling has bad boys like other sports. Rasheed Wallace in the NBA, Sean Avery in the NHL, A.J. Pierzynski in MLB, and now John Morris in curling. I laughed for a good five minutes about what constitutes a “bad boy” in curling. Is it ignoring your partners sweep/don’t sweep orders?
I went to Morris’s Wikipedia page to search for dirt. Would I find a litany of arrests for unlicensed maple syrup distribution? Curling suspensions for leaving the stones in the shape of a dick on the ice?
According to this 2009 article that refers to Morris as a “wild child,” he liked to party (oh no!), once broke a broom in anger (like Bo Jackson!), and ripped his shirt off in anger once (oh, but it’s fine when the Hulk does it), and… that’s it. Curling—so fucking adorable. I want more of it.
Curling is like any other sport in that it can be mundane and every so often you see a really cool shot where one stone ricochets off another and knocks two stones out of scoring range and leaves that initial stone covered in a perfect spot. Nobody gets concussed and there’s no video replay bogging down the action. I’m not saying Ed Hochuli overexplaining a ruling wouldn’t be welcomed at times, but it’s unnecessary.
The only thing curling is missing is Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. I’ve witnessed some inexplicably bad shots in my long and illustrious time as a sports fan and all that’s missing is Johnny and Tara dragging some poor Swiss guy who just cost his team a chance at gold. “The only thing worse than the weight of that stone is his dull footwear!” Or something cool they’d say.
But aside from that minor point, curling has everything good about sports. And if anyone wants a future Olympian to join their club team, let me know.
*If NHL players were at the Olympics I’d feel differently.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes were set to marry. We apologize for the fake news.